Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review : The Dressmaker

I have enjoyed other Rosalie Ham books but The Dressmaker not so much. In the first few chapters we are introduced to the people who live in Dungatar but they are such an unlikable group of people, it was hard to distinguish one from another. They behaved in unlikely ways with no explanation. I didn't find them well drawn and consequently found it difficult to keep track of who was who.

The story had an interesting premise. Tilly a young woman, returns home after having being sent away as a child. She returns, one assumes, to look after her elderly mother who now suffers from some form of mental impairment. Tilly's ability as a dressmaker begins to win over the townspeople when another totally unnecessary tragedy strikes and the story becomes a tale of misery and gloom. Yet it seems to be written in the light hearted style of a comedy. However I found it difficult to be amused when there was so much adversity and misfortune.

The mystery surrounding around why Tilly was forced to leave all those years ago was the one thing that kept me reading and this, at least, was resolved satisfactorily.

Overall though, I found it a disappointing read.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Praying for boldness

In Acts 4:29 we see the believers praying after Peter and John have been released from a night in jail. "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness" and the answer in verse 31 "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." While this is the only recorded prayer for boldness there are about six other occasions in Acts when we read that someone, mostly Paul, spoke the word of God boldly, which suggests maybe this was something they prayed on a regular basis.

Yet it seems we don't pray for boldness very often. It is quite a scary thing to pray, especially when we see how promptly God answers. Furthermore this prayer for boldness was in the face of threats which is perhaps our problem. Mostly we aren't threaten because of our faith so we don't see our need for boldness.

However in our daily lives we do need boldness to be the people God wants us to be. If we are often anxious or fearful, we create a wrong impression and don't let people see what God can do in our lives.

So let's pray for boldness so we can speak with confidence.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 22:8-9

People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?' And the answer will be: 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods.' Jeremiah 22:8-9

People from other nations were surprised at the destruction of Jerusalem. It was a 'great' city and the terrain made it easier to defend than other places. The only way they could understand such events was to explain it in terms of a broken covenant.

Constable in his Commentary on Jeremiah writes, "Ancient near Easteners understood the consequences of covenant unfaithfulness, and they would associate them with Jerusalem's fate." These people believed gods to be territorial so in their thinking the God of Jerusalem must be displeased because it was so obvious to them that the people of Jerusalem hadn't keep the agreement they had made with him.

This wasn't binding on them since they worshipped the gods who were supposedly in charge of their geographical area. Nevertheless even though their beliefs in many gods was erroneous, they weren't too far from the truth. Israel had indeed made a covenant and weren't being faithful.

Israel was supposed to be a light to the other nations to show them how good it was to be in covenant with their God – the one true God – and attract others to join them in worshipping him. Instead they had become a bad example showing what utter destruction occurs as a result of unfaithfulness.

Our witness as Christians has a big impact of those around us who are wanting to know if being a Christian makes a difference. Let's be light in our world so others will want to worship the one true God.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review : When I see Grandma

When I see Grandma by Debra Tidball is the story of a young girl who visits her grandma in a nursing home. It's clear from the illustrations that she is no longer able to communicate and spends much of her time asleep. However her granddaughter remembers when her grandma was more able and she endeavours to brighten up her day by doing the things she use to enjoy singing, dancing, brushing her hair, cuddling, reading and playing music. The granddaughter is able to connect to her grandmother and think about her good memories. It is quite a moving portrayal of their relationship.

The illustrations in the book provide positive images of the nursing home where the grandma is always smiling. While this is idealistic, it works well in a children's book. The illustrations enhances the written text and the background characters adds depth to the story.

Overall a helpful book for children with aging grandparents.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Gladys Aylward's quote

Sometimes I wonder if God had someone else in mind to be the author of the book I'm writing.

I read this Gladys Aylward's quote:
"I wasn't God's first choice for what I've done in China…I don't know who it must have been a man…a well-educated man…"
Is this true? Or does it just come from a sense of inadequacy?

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 18:11-12

Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, 'This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.' But they will reply, 'It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.' Jeremiah 18:11-12

What a tragic reply! These Judahites could see no value in changing their ways because they didn't believe disaster was coming. They had been warned many times by various prophets but they didn't realize that God was being patient. They thought he was lenient. These people didn't expect their circumstances to change and couldn't imagine God allowing them to be attacked, captured and sent into exile. They were so wrong.

It's a problem when we take God for granted. In the West we regularly experience so much grace and protection from God that we think it's normal. We continue with our plans, our agendas and our timetables without giving God much consideration. What can we do?

We can keep up to date with current affairs. As we read accounts of Christians who are persecuted in other places, of Christians who are trapped in civil unrest and even those caught up in extreme weather events, we realize faith does not guarantee a life of ease. We can be more prudent as we make our plans knowing that our lives are like mist (James 4:14) and we can guard against stubbornness by keeping our hearts soft towards God. Remembering that God doesn't allow disasters to happen capriciously but because he can see ultimate good coming from it.

Let's not take God or his blessings for granted.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review : The Rosie Project

I really enjoyed, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. The main character, Don Tillman, probably has Asperger Syndrome so he is socially inept, misses subtleties in conversations and tends to take all remarks literally which created a lot of humour. Don is a professor in genetics and highly intelligent with an excellent memory. However he has given up on ever finding a life partner and rarely gets past a first date. He befriends a neighbour who convinces him that there is someone for everyone. He wonders how to find this person and stumbles on the idea of a questionnaire to find the perfect wife. Soon into the project he meets Rosie through a mutual friend. Don quickly realises she is completely unsuitable as a life partner but he decides to help her find her biological father through his knowledge of genetics. In the long and complicated process he falls in love with Rosie. But the relationship is fraught with difficulties, which is not surprising since they are quite incompatible as the questionnaire proves.

It is a very cleverly written book because so many things that happen in the middle and latter stages of the book tie in with things that happened earlier. In actually makes me want to read the book again to take note of how the author crafted such an effective plot. It created a sense of satisfaction with all the loose ends tied up.

The only thing that spoiled the book for me was Rosie excessive bad language. I suspect the author did this to show how different she was to Don but he had already made his point so I found it unnecessary.

Overall though it was an entertaining story of love and hope.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On Replacing Lies With Truth

One time a Pentecostal friend of mine asked why I became fearful whenever she talked about demons. It was a fair question. I did feel fearful when she talked about demons. Yet I knew, at least intellectually, that God was more powerful than demons.

I prayed about it and asked God: why am I afraid of talking about demons? A few days later the answer suddenly came to me: I believed there were no safe places. Believing there were no safe places meant I felt vulnerable to attack.

Instantly I knew this was a lie, but it was a lie I had been unaware of and had believed for a long time. I had to decide to no longer believe the lie – I repented. I needed to replace the lie with God’s truth. Proverbs 18:10 came to mind. "The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." As I meditated on this truth, that I have a safe place in God, I realised that I can rely on him to be my protection against demons or whatever else seeks to attack me.

God's desire is for me to live free of fear and he equips me through his Word - his Truth.

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 15:18-19

Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails. Therefore this is what the Lord says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them." Jeremiah 15:18-19

Jeremiah wasn't afraid to accuse God of being a deceptive brook. Jeremiah feels that God promised to refresh and revive him like water from a spring but God has failed, leaving him with an incurable wound. Jeremiah speaks from the depth of his pain and has no problem being emotionally honest with God. Nowhere do we find God being offended with being called deceptive. He understands our pain as well as our short-sightedness.

The Lord tells Jeremiah to repent of his self-pitying attitude. This is hard to hear when we are in pain. We feel justified in our complaints particularly if our pain has come about as a result of being obedient to God's calling on our life. Often we feel if only other people would change their ways and be more considerate then our lives would run more smoothly.

Yet God can't restore us to usefulness if we are wallowing in self-pity. It's a sign that we have become self-absorbed and lost sight of the larger purposes of God. We blend in with those we are trying to help, uttering worthless words, rather than being God's representative in the situation.

God promise is, "I will restore." He allows us time to express our pain, hurt and disappointments but there comes a time to move on, change our attitude and look forward to the new things God has for us.

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Thursday, September 08, 2016

Book Review : Mail Order Surprise

This book is currently being featured on the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance. Information about the author and more details about the book can be found here.

Mail Order Surprise is a lovely romantic novel by Lucy Thompson. It is set in America's Wild West, Denver, Colorado in the spring of 1881 where life is harsh and made more difficult by cattle rustlers. In a way this made it difficult for me to relate as this is a context that I'm totally unfamiliar with and I don't know a lot about cattle or horses. Nevertheless I enjoyed this story of two people both with serious issues finding love through arbitrary means.

Beau Harding's issues are mainly practical ones. He is determine to keep the family together following the death of his mother and the desertion of his father. Whereas Lydia Walsh's issues are emotional. She was abused by her first husband and mother-in-law but managed to look after their children with great care. She is now a widow looking for a new start but her previous dramas often prevent her from fully appreciating this new opportunity.

Both Beau and Lydia have a personal faith which they seem to draw upon in times of crises. Yet this is not a big part of the story although each chapter starts with a Bible verse. I found the story to be engaging and the author was able to create much tension as the story reached its climax.

Overall an enjoyable read.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Blog Tour : Mail Order Surprise

This blog tour is for the novel: Mail Order Surprise by Lucy Thompson. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review can be found here.

5 – 9 September

is introducing

(Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications April 19, 2016)


Lucy Thompson

About the Book:
Colorado, 1881. Lydia Walsh is on the run. The quiet rancher she marries and expected to find safety and protection with turns out to have three siblings, next to nothing to live on, and is a crack shot who may or may not be one of the states best cattle rustlers.

Beau Harding wants to keep his family together and do the right thing by them. His mail order bride comes with her own set of baggage: two more mouths to feed and empty hearts begging him to fill. The job he took for some quick money gets him thrown in jail for rustling, and then to clear his name he takes on another job--and learns that his wife may have been the one plotting his family’s downfall all along.

About the Author:
Hi! My name is Lucy Thompson. I’m a stay-at-home mum to five precocious children and wife to the ultra-handy Dave by day and a snoop by night, stalking interesting characters through historical settings, and writing about their exploits.

I enjoy meeting new people from all over the world and learning about the craft of writing. When I can be separated from my laptop, I’m a professional time waster on facebook (really!), a slave to the towering stack of books on my bedside table, and a bottler, preserving fruit the old fashioned way so I can swap recipes and tips with my characters.

My home is in central Queensland, Australia where I do not ride a kangaroo to the shops, mainly because my children won’t fit.

Represented by the fabulous Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America.

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Saturday, September 03, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 11:18

Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. Jeremiah 11:18

I've discovered like Jeremiah that God reveals to me those things I need to know. This doesn't mean God tells me everything about a situation or the people in it. However if there is something I need to be aware of so I can be sensitive in a particular instance, he makes sure I know. When I have been involved in churches and caring for others going through difficult times, it's a comfort to realise that God equips me for whatever circumstances I have to face. If it would be helpful for me to know more than I'm being told, God has ways of making sure I find out.

Then there are other times when I can't discern what people are thinking or why they are behaving inexplicably. Yet this simply means I don't need to know, since God hasn't reveal it to me. Perhaps God has revealed things to others so they can help. I can continue to pray and be content knowing God is in control of all situations. I don't have to chase after information that isn't my concern.

Paul gives us this advice in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, "You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you". There are times to reach out to help, advise or comfort others but there are also times when we need to mind our own business and not get involved. At all times we need God's wisdom.

When we have faith in God's ability to reveal to us what we need to know, when we need to know it, we can relax, confident that God will bring about his purposes.

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Book Review : The Huge Bag of Worries

The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside is a very helpful book which teaches children how to deal with their worries. The story is about a happy girl called Jenny who has no reason to be worried. Over time though she begins to worry about all sorts of random things. The more she focuses on negative things the bigger and bigger her worries become. The story resolves when Jenny finds someone she can talk to and shows children that some worries are normal, some are not our responsibility and some just become huge because we have chosen to focus on them. This produces a satisfying and realistic ending.

Frank Rodgers has done a great job with the colourful illustrations. They add context to the story and are a good fit with the text.

Overall a terrific book for young children and a useful tool for those who work with them.

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